PLAYA VISTA – A day after sitting out practice with a left knee bone bruise, Blake Griffin returned to the court Friday for the Clippers.
“In terms of an injury it’s not really that bad,” Griffin said. “I’m good with bone bruises. Me and bone bruises are on good terms. It’s really about pain management.”
The Clippers begin a three-game road trip Saturday night in Salt Lake City. Asked before Friday’s hour-long practice if he intends to play at any point between Utah, Sacramento and Phoenix, Griffin said, “I can’t really say, ‘Yes’ for sure or ‘No’ for sure. It’s my intention to play.”
Griffin sustained the injury during Wednesday’s open scrimmage when he leapt for a potential game-tying dunk with 3.7 seconds to go. Jared Dudley, who was on the floor at the time of the injury, said he was unaware Griffin was hurt at all. Griffin got up quickly and attempted a pair of free throws, but walked with a noticeable limp as he came back to the sideline after the final buzzer.
He had an MRI Wednesday night and after a few nervous hours, received news that there was no structural damage to the knee.
“Every time I’ve hurt my knee, the previous two times, it was always when I planted, when I was going up not when I was coming down,” Griffin said. “So, just that alone was kind of scary to me.”
Griffin missed the 2009-10 season with a fractured left kneecap and missed the 2012 Olympics with a torn meniscus in his right knee. Griffin said he’s dealt with bone bruises before, including during the recovery process from surgery on his meniscus last summer.
“I had one when I tore my meniscus last summer that’s why I slowed my recovery down,” he said. “It was just because we wanted that bone bruise to completely heal. This one, not so much.”
Head coach Doc Rivers expects to monitor how Griffin moves in practice and talk to Trainer Jasen Powell before determining the three-time All-Star’s status.
“I’ll watch him and I’ll just know that if he’s not in the right spots, then I’ll probably tell him he’s not healthy because he’s been in the right spots,” Rivers said. “I’m not that concerned with it, to be honest, because our trainer’s not. But obviously, if I saw something, it’s preseason. I don’t need him playing tomorrow (against the Jazz). I need him playing October [29 on opening night]. That’s far more important.”
While Griffin was back to practice Friday, Reggie Bullock (sore right knee), J.J. Redick (left thigh contusion) and Matt Barnes (sore left calf) remained out. Rivers said all three making progress towards their return.
He’s been running a lot and doing the conditioning and before he couldn’t even do that.”
Bullock has yet to practice with his new team, but has been watching every step of the way. Rivers praised the No. 25 pick in the Draft Friday for how involved he’s been despite his preseason setback.
“The one thing I love about him is that he’s a worker,” Rivers said. “He’s been really impressive on the sidelines. If you ever watch him in any of our games he’s sitting next to one of the coaches. He’s asking a lot of questions, so that’s a good sign.”
In past seasons, Rivers has occasionally used the NBA D-League to get rookies minutes, including first-round pick Fab Melo last season with the Celtics. He doesn’t see sending the sharpshooting Bullock to Bakersfield this year, though.
“If think if there’s a chance he’s going to play in a game, then he’s going to stay with us, for the most part,” Rivers said. “If not, we’ll send him down. I don’t see Reggie as a guy like that. I think he’ll be around. We don’t want to let shooting out of the door.”